Anthony Burgess lost Dictionary of Slang discovered

Die International Anthony Burgess Foundation in Manchester hat neulich das verlorene Slang-Wörterbuch von Anthony Burgess im Keller gefunden („at the bottom of a large cardboard box [full of household objects], packed underneath some old bedsheets“). Das Teil hatte er nie fertiggestellt – es existieren insgesamt 856 Wörterbucheinträge, 153 für den Buchstaben A, 700 für B und 33 für Z.

Leider finde ich das komplette Wörterbuch nirgends online, aber: Ich habe ein kleines Faible für Slang-Wörterbücher (hier stehen die Wörterbücher für Rotwelsch und Manisch im Regal) und wollte sowieso schon lange mal wieder auf Jonathon Greenes Timelines of Slang hinweisen, der hatte offensichtlich etwas mehr Zeit, als Herr Burgess, no offense.

Jedenfalls: Burgess, Slang, Wörterbuch und genau dieser Jonathon Green kommt hier ausgiebig zu Wort --> Guardian: Anthony Burgess's lost dictionary of slang discovered (via Boing Boing).

The writer Anthony Burgess invented futuristic slang for his cult novel A Clockwork Orange and was so fascinated by the language of the street that he began work on a dictionary more than 50 years ago. Now his lost dictionary of slang, abandoned after several hundred entries covering three letters, has been discovered. […]

The dictionary was commissioned by Penguin Books in 1965, but Burgess soon discovered writing it was too difficult, saying: “I’ve done A and B and find that a good deal of A and B is out of date or has to be added to, and I could envisage the future as being totally tied up with such a dictionary.” What survives are 6x4 slips of paper on which each entry is typed. There are 153, 700 and 33 slips for the letters A, B and Z respectively. […]

Burgess underestimated the sheer scale of work involved, Green said, noting that he had devoted more than 17 years of research to his own publication, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, published by Chambers.

“Slang is a very slippery customer … I get the feeling that Burgess thought it was much easier than it actually is … Smart as he was, with an understanding of linguistics and language, I don’t think he could have allowed himself to do a second-rate [dictionary]. If he didn’t stop everything else, that’s what he would have turned out with,” Green said.

But he criticised some of Burgess’s words and definitions. “Terms like ‘writer’s block’ are not slang. Proper names like the Beatles are not slang. Meanwhile, one cannot, as in ‘arse’, begin a definition with the statement ‘I need not define’. Nor throw in personal assessments (‘Arse is a noble word; ass is a vulgarism).”

Green defined slang as always subversive: “You could say it’s taking the piss. It sets itself up ‘against’ … Most slang is a playful reinterpretation of a standard English word or phrase.”

He observed that dictionaries invariably reflect “the mindset of the individual who edits them. This is patently true of Burgess’s book, which reflects both the age in which he worked and that of the author himself – he was then 49 – he includes a great deal of military uses, picked up presumably at first hand. His attitude to sexuality, and thus the terms he includes, is very much that of the barrack room.” […]

Entries in A from Anthony Burgess’s lost dictionary of slang

Abdabs (the screaming) – Fit of nerves, attack of delirium tremens, or other uncontrollable emotional crisis. Perhaps imitative of spasm of the jaw, with short, sharp screams.

Abdicate – In poker, to withdraw from the game, forfeiting all money or chips put in the pot.

Abfab – Obsolescent abbreviation of absolutely fabulous, used by Australian teenagers or ‘bodgies’.

Abortion – Anything ugly, ill-shapen, or generally detestable: ‘You look a right bloody abortion, dressed like that’; ‘a nasty little abortion of a film’ (Australian in origin).

Abyssinia – I’ll be seeing you. A valediction that started during the Italo-Abyssinian war. Obsolete, but so Joyceanly satisfying that it is sometimes hard to resist.

Accidental(ly) on purpose – Deliberately, but with the appearance of accident: ‘So I put me hand on her knee, see, sort of accidental on purpose.’ (Literary locus classicus: Elmer Rice’s The Adding Machine, 1923.)

Arse – I need not define. The taboo is gradually being broken so that plays on the stage and on radio and television introduce the term with no protest. The American Random House Dictionary … is still shy of it, however, though not of the American colloquialism ass. Arse is a noble word; ass is a vulgarism.